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14 May 2020updated 04 Sep 2021 12:29pm

Number of patients waiting six or more weeks for diagnostic tests highest since 2008

By Nicu Calcea

The number of people waiting six or more weeks for a diagnostic test in England nearly tripled in March 2020, as Covid-19 saw hospital postpone “non-urgent” treatment.

New figures from NHS England show that, by the end of March, 85,446 patients had been waiting six or more weeks for diagnostic tests and procedures, up from 29,832 in February and 26,483 in March 2019.

The number is the highest since 2008. The 2004 NHS Improvement Plan said that, by March 2008, nobody should wait more than six weeks for a diagnostic test.

The data covers 15 medical procedures including MRIs, heart tests, colonoscopies and gastroscopies. 

While the total number of people waiting for tests fell in March, the percentage waiting for more than six weeks shot up above 10 per cent.

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Patients waited longest for bone density scans, non-obstetric ultrasounds, and hearing tests.

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